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Rajasthan high court directs striking doctors to resume work, government arrests six

Health minister Kali Charan Saraf said if doctors did not return to work by 7 pm on Friday, action will be taken. Doctors went on strike Monday

jaipur Updated: Nov 10, 2017 20:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Rajasthan Essential Services Maintenance Act,RESMA,Rajasthan doctors' strike
Patients await for doctors outside the OPD at SMS Hospital in Jaipur on Friday.(Prabhakar Sharma/HT Photo)

As the strike by government doctors entered fifth day on Friday, the government began a crackdown under the Rajasthan Essential Services Maintenance Act (RESMA) and arrested six of them from different parts of the state.

In another development, the Rajasthan high court directed doctors to resume work with immediate effect and asked the government to ensure that the strike ends.

Health minister Kali Charan Saraf, who has been heading the panel talking to striking doctors’ representatives since the strike began on Monday, said if the doctors did not return to work by 7 pm on Friday, action will be taken.

Police said two doctors each from Bharatpur and Jhalawar districts, one each from Sawai Madhopur and Tonk districts were arrested under RESMA on Friday.

Saraf blamed obduracy of All Rajasthan In-Service Doctors Association (ARISDA) for the deadlock.

He said the government agreed to their “fair demands” on Thursday night when ARISDA president Dr Ajay Choudhary raised the issue of resident doctors. (Resident doctors of state medical colleges joined the strike on Thursday to show solidarity.)

The minister said the issue of resident doctors was not in the list of demands of doctors and was raised without information.

Showing two envelopes with Ajay Choudhary as the sender, the minister said the doctors had sent blank papers in the name of resignation, refuting doctors’ claim of mass resignation.

The minister said he was aware that despite alternative arrangements, patients are facing problems in hospitals across the state. But he ruled out any death due to the strike.

Meanwhile, the high court heard a PIL filed by advocates Abhinav Sharma and Anand Sharma and issued notices to the health principal secretary, director general of police, Dr Ajay Choudhary, Dr Durga Shankar Saini and secretary of the Medical Council of Rajasthan asking why no action has been taken against the striking doctors.

Justice KS Jhaveri directed the state government to ensure compliance of an order passed by the court in September 2012. The court had then held that the strike call given by Dr Ajay Choudhary and others in 2011 was unconstitutional and illegal.

The court said it was government’s duty to ensure no one strikes work and it should exercise its power to see that the strike ends immediately.

The court directed advocate general MN Lodha that notices be sent individually to all the doctors on strike telling them that the HC has taken a serious view of the matter and that they should join work, said Sharma.

The bench directed the state to identify doctors on strike and provide the list to the court on November 15, the next date of hearing.

The high court also directed the government to fulfil feasible demands of the doctors. It said the government should set up a committee to look into the remaining demands.

First Published: Nov 10, 2017 20:21 IST